Reps. Wasserman Schultz and Frankel Push Ethics Accountability Bill for Sexual Harassment in Congress

U. S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) filed legislation today that would require sexual harassment cases to be automatically referred to the Ethics Committee in order to help lift the shroud of secrecy cloaking settlements, and to ensure a more accountable culture in Congress.

Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-21) is an original co-sponsor of the Me Too Congressional Ethics Act, which would ensure that members of Congress and their staff face potential Ethics Committee sanctions for unwanted and improper sexual behavior that generates an official action, such as a legal settlement or a finding by the Congressional Office Of Compliance.

“The current process for handling sexual harassment cases in Congress too often protects the perpetrators while leaving the victims exposed,” said Wasserman Schultz, who authored the bill. “In sexual harassment cases where a settlement is reached or wrongdoing is found, the Ethics Committee should immediately initiate an investigation. As we’ve just seen with so many troubling legal settlements coming to light, that is simply not happening now. The Congressional culture surrounding sexual harassment must change immediately – and it must be much more transparent and accountable. Victims of sexual harassment deserve to be heard. There should be consequences levied when the accusation is found to have merit, including and especially within the halls of Congress.”

“The ‘Me Too’ movement has arrived, exposing the toxic nature of sexual harassment. Members of Congress who breach the trust of their office by violating civil rights law, including acts of sexual abuse, should be held accountable both to the victim and the institution. This legislation assures swiftness and fairness in responding to an ugly chapter in the history of Congress,” said Congresswoman Frankel, Chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, an original co-sponsor of the bill.